let the fun begin

We interviewed one of Australia’s leading zero waste bloggers on wasting less so we can live more

One of the biggest trends, finally, of 2019 is living a zero-waste lifestyle. At Power5 we were lucky enough to interview Tammy from Gippsland Unwrapped, a popular zero waste and environmental blog. She gave us her insights into becoming more sustainable, dealt out practical tips and taught us how to take this movement the next step.  

1. What are the easiest entry points to living a more sustainable life?

Reducing the volume of household waste.

Garbage bin audits across Australia show that about 30-40% of most household rubbish is food waste, and of this nearly two thirds is avoidable!

This information means that one of the best ways to reduce your waste is to start composting all your organic matter. Some people will be lucky enough to have a food and garden organics collection bin from their council. But others should start home composting or worm farming to reduce their volume of rubbish by a third almost immediately. It would also pay to make sure you are using up as much food as possible before it ends up in the bin.

Next the audits found that 10% of the material in our landfill bins is actually recyclable material. So people should learn how to be better recyclers by understanding what their council can collect in their kerbside recycling bins. People should also be aware that there are many recycling opportunities outside of the kerbside collection system. For example, soft plastic packaging can be recycled at RED cycle collection points, x-rays can be recycled at some imaging centres, toothpaste tubes can go to Terracycle collection points and paint can be recycled at a Paintback collection point, just to name a few.

Once you are good at composting and recycling, then start to look at how you might reduce your consumption of packaging and products in the first place. This might involve swapping disposables for reusables like produce bags, travel cups, and calico bags or even giving up some things.  It might also mean meal planning and shopping lists. You will find that the less ‘stuff’ you bring into your home, the easier composting and recycling becomes.

2. Snacks are a common cause of plastic and wrapping – what are your top 3 zero-waste snack ideas?

I find the easiest snacks to be

1.     fresh fruit and vegetables

2.     popcorn which I can buy in bulk and store at home for a long time

3.     and then things like hard boiled eggs because we have our own chickens.

Otherwise I am trying to make snacks at home from things I grow in the garden. Or with ingredients I can buy in bulk or in easily recycled packaging like paper, glass and cans.

3. We all know we can reuse old peanut butter jars but what are some other items we can repurpose that we probably don’t know?

Reuse and repurposing is a really smart way to reduce waste because it has more benefits for you and for the environment than recycling does. I particularly find the creativity and empowerment involved in repurposing things to be extremely enjoyable.

One of my favourite reuses is to use the handles from my bamboo toothbrushes as garden labels when planting my seeds, they are perfect for this.

You can also reuse old underwear and clothing as garden ties for plants like tomatoes.

I even pulled apart my unrepairable leather boots and reused some of the leather to make a fly swat!

Old towels in my house are cut down to become my tea towels and dish cloths. I also crush egg shells to use in place of bottle brushes.

The wax coating from cheese can be reused to make fire starters.

And, old socks and stockings can become hair ties.

When you start to see everything as a potential resource for meeting your needs and desires, rather than waste, you will amaze yourself with the sorts of things you can come up with. I think the saying “there is no such thing as waste, only things in the wrong place” is spot on.

View this post on Instagram

Fixing is good, right?! If we can make the stuff we own last longer, less of it will end up in landfill. But there's heaps of stuff in our homes that's difficult to fix, difficult to upcycle and difficult to recycle, so keeping those items out of landfill and circulating in the economy is an ongoing challenge. It's all good and well to attempt to have only 'zero waste' items in our homes but most of us aren't starting from a clean slate and most of us find we can't control every interaction of every family member to allow us to control everything that makes it's way into our home. Part of zero waste living is embracing the stuff we have and learning to be resourceful and creative with it so that we can age with it, pass it on, and keep it out of landfill. Disposability is really a choice and repair is a mindset, so even really cheap things can last a long time if we decide we want them to. One product I've discovered that can help us embrace our stuff and fix difficult materials like plastic parts, is @sugru mouldable glue. It's claimed to be the world's most versatile glue and can fix all sorts of stuff from toys, to gadgets, to kitchen appliances and more. I actually resisted purchasing this product for a few years after learning about it because the product isn't zero waste. The silicone rubber and part of the packaging do go to landfill at the end of their life. However, I remained intrigued by Sugru and the more I researched, the more I felt a connection with the brand's ethos and with inventor, Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh. In the end, it seemed a bit silly to be so strict about zero waste products in my home if the product was actually going to prevent many bigger items from becoming landfill. If you want to know more, you can read the rest of this post on my blog. Link in profile.

A post shared by Tammy Logan (@gippslandunwrapped) on

4. What are your favourite sustainable and eco-friendly brands?

I wouldn’t say I have any favourite brands. I’m always looking for ways that I can avoid buying things, but when I need to, I head to small local businesses and markets near me first. When I can’t find it local, I usually look to an online store like Biome where I know every one of their products is free of unsustainable palm oil and has had its environmental credentials scrutinised. They also categorise products as zero waste, plastic free, etc so it’s easy for me to find what I need.

5. What can we do as a consumer, besides personally choosing to be more sustainable, to take action against waste?

Firstly, it’s not just the small environmental benefit that comes from choosing to be more sustainable that makes your actions worthwhile; setting an example also raises awareness in people around you. Your actions might start conversations about why you do certain things, and also helps people to see sustainable behaviours as normal, leading them to think about their own behaviours and adapt to fit in. So make sure you have these casual conversations with people who are interested.

Another easy thing you can do is share what you’ve learned and are doing with other people on social media. Social media has great reach and social psychology research tells us that it is a tool of cultural change and can actually mold our society’s value system. It plays a large role in influencing consumption patterns and lifestyle. So, the more we portray sustainable consumption habits and lifestyles, the more chance we have at creating sustainable social norms and a more sustainable future.

If you’re looking to get more involved try joining a local environmental group and volunteer to help them campaign or complete a project. I’ve also spent many hours volunteering at my children’s kindergarten and school to help them implement waste wise initiatives. You could also do this for any sporting or other club you are involved in.

Finally, if you really want to make a difference, it is essential to raise awareness within businesses, governments and media too. They need to know we care about environmental issues like waste and the impacts of their operations on the planet. If we can get these groups to take notice and implement changes, the beneficial consequences will be far reaching and much more impactful.

You can catch Tammy and get practical and useful advice on leading a zero-waste lifestyle  on her website here. Stay up to date with all her sustainable wisdom by following her on Instagram and Facebook.

Check out this super quick and super entertaining vid on eco-friendly tips

0 comments on We interviewed one of Australia’s leading zero waste bloggers on wasting less so we can live more

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *